A Singaporean’s Guide to Open Booking of HDB Flats

by Michelle Goana

Chances are if you’re looking to buy your first home, you’d already be familiar with the Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance (SBF) exercises. However, you’d soon realise that buying your ideal home may not be as smooth sailing as you wished as your ideal HDB BTO may have been oversubscribed or that the balance flats were not to your liking.

Before you resign to yourself to a HDB Resale flat or an Executive Condominium, did you know that you still have final chance at applying for a flat through the Open Booking exercise? These balance flats are available throughout the year and you can get one booked as early as the next working day!

A quick recap to BTO / SBF

BTO flats are launched for sale four times a year and have varying flat types in different towns to cater to every budget and need. These projects are usually announced six months in advance to help you with your planning. A ballot is conducted at the close of each exercise with the results announced approximately three weeks later.

SBF takes place only twice a year in May and November. This is when you can apply for balance flats from earlier BTO sales launches, excess flats in projects, or flats repurchased by HDB. The waiting time as compared to new BTO flats is shorter but are usually very limited and in high demand.

What exactly is the Open Booking of HDB Flats Option?

There will be flats that were previously unchosen, given up by homeowners, or were repurchased from existing owners by HDB. The SBF and Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) makes them available during the next exercise to apply for a queue number for a chance to pick from the entire selection of remaining flats available.

The Open Booking of Flats works in a similar fashion just that it is available all year round instead of only within a 7-day period during the sales launch exercise. Buyers can apply for a queue number online on a first come first served basis, and theoretically book a flat as early as the next working day.

Online ApplicationEarliest Flat Booking
After midnight and before noon (Monday to Friday)In the afternoon of the same day
After noon and before midnight (Monday to Thursday)In the morning of the following day
After noon and before midnight (Friday)In the morning of the following Monday
Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)In the afternoon of the following Monday

Is applying for an Open Booking Flat worth it?

This option is best for those looking to get a flat ASAP as you can apply anytime you want and there is a slower waiting process to book a flat. However, the limitations are that you won’t be able to have a choice on the floor and unit and will be allocated with whatever that is left. So, if it doesn’t matter, then this could be an option for you.

How do I apply for an Open Booking of Flats?

  1. The first step is to check if you meet the eligibility requirements. These requirements are the same when you apply for a BTO so be sure to check on the eligibility criteria, income ceilings, and housing schemes available.
  2. Next, you should obtain an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter or an Approval in Principle (AIP) of loan letter from your bank in advance. This will help you expedite the registration and selection process later on.
  3. After getting those documents ready, you’re ready to submit your application online by using your mobile phone, tablet, or computer. Upon successful confirmation, you will receive a queue number and selection appointment date and time to book a flat.

Depending on when you submit your application, the slots are given to each applicant according to a first time first served basis. If you applied for a flat after midnight or before noon, you might even be called for an appointment as early as the same day of your application, so it is best to keep your day free if you are planning to apply early.

4. The fourth step requires you to prepare the following items to your appointment:

  • Identity cards (if you’re in the SPF, SAF, or SCDF, you will need to request for a certified copy of your NRIC from your Personnel Department)
  • Passport for non-citizens
  • Marriage Certificate (if you’re married)
  • Divorce Certificate (if you’re divorced)
  • Death Certificate (if your spouse is deceased)
  • Doctor’s certification of pregnancy or birth certificates of your children (if you apply under the Parenthood Priority Scheme)
  • Your birth certificate and your parents’ marriage certificate (if you’re buying a flat under the Multi Generation Priority Scheme or Married Child Priority Scheme)
  • Student Pass or Letter from School or College or Institute of Learning for those under 18 years old
  • Income documents to prove your income ceilings to take CPF housing grants
  • If you’re opting for a HDB loan, you will also need to submit your HLE letter

You will also be required to pay an option fee depending on your flat type. For a 2-room Flexi Flat, it’s $500, a 3-room flat is $1,000, and a 4 or 5-room and Executive Flat is $2,000. This can be paid via cash, cashier’s order, or cheque.

5. The fifth step is when you will sign the Agreement for Lease. You will need to prepare the original copy of the following items:

  • Identity cards
  • Receipt of booking fee
  • Bank passbook and photocopy of the page which states your name and bank account number
  • Approval in Principle of loan letter from bank or financial institution
  • Power of Attorney, if you are unable to attend the appointment personally
  • Latest CPF statements

This is also when you will be asked to make a downpayment for your flat. If you’re taking a HDB loan, it will be 10% of your flat whereas, if you are paying via a bank loan, it will be 25% (up to 20% from CPF, at least 5% from cash) of your flat. You will also pay your stamp duties and any other legal fees. If you intend to use your CPF to pay for your flat, you will need to set-up the 2-Factor Authentication for your SingPass in advance as it takes up to 10 working days to be activated.

  • Once your flat is completed, you can collect your keys on the same day you sign the Agreement of Lease. You will need to bring the original copies of these documents to collect your keys:
    • Identity cards
    • Certificate of Fire Insurance
    • Power of Attorney (if unable to attend the appointment personally)
    • Latest CPF statements
    • Completed GIRO form (if you’re paying monthly loan instalments partially or fully by cash)

The waiting time for completed flats should be within three months whereas for flats under construction it will be when the flats are completed!

Good luck!

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